Box Labeling Requirements: What You Need to Know

Picture the last time that you were at the supermarket. All around you were countless products, all housed in different forms of packaging. More than likely, you noticed a large number of goods packaged in boxes, but you may not have noticed that on those boxes were various descriptions of ingredients, net weight, lot codes, and more. Given how ubiquitous these markings are, it shouldn’t be too surprising that many of them are required by law. 

However, what may be surprising is the great diversity in box labeling requirements that vary between industries—most notably, for those working in the food packaging and personal care/cosmetics industries. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created specific regulations dictating what information must be included on product packaging, with fines ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the infraction. 

Consequently, organizations must stay well-versed on today’s box labeling requirements so that their products display all of the necessary information to accommodate federal guidelines and customers alike. This article will explore the basics of what to include on these labels, as well as detail the notable additions that are required of those in the food and cosmetic industries. This knowledge will provide confidence that your operation won’t experience supply chain issues or legal trouble. 

Essential Box Labeling Requirements

Depending on the product type, packages adhere to different regulations regarding what label markings are required. When containers hold goods that are sold in a retail environment based on weight, measure, or count, they must adhere to one specific law: The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA).

Enacted in 1967, the FPLA sets basic requirements for what information needs to be included on consumer commodity packaging. This legislation aims to create easy value comparisons and prevent deceptive packaging. To do this, the FPLA requires that all packages carrying commodities bear labels that include the following:

  • An identification of the commodity inside the package.
  • The title and location of the original manufacturer, packaging facility, or distributor.
  • The net quantity of the commodity’s contents in terms of numerical count, measure, or weight, depending on what’s most applicable

Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, the FPLA’s regulations apply to an incredibly wide variety of products. However, for many other goods such as food and cosmetics, additional rules apply from other governing agencies. 

This next section will explore how these extra requirements impact those working in different areas of the food and cosmetics industries. 

Additional Box Labeling Requirements for Food and Cosmetics

For all cosmetics and most packaged food, the FPLA still applies. In addition to these regulations, the FDA has a host of statutes requiring supplementary information. Many states have also applied dating requirements that specifically apply to meat, poultry, and egg products. 

Here’s a brief overview of what these industries need to consider when labeling merchandise:

Extra Label Requirements for the Cosmetic Industry:

Passed by Congress in 1938, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) gives the FDA authority to oversee the safe production and labeling of all food, drug, cosmetics, and medical devices. It defines all cosmetics as products that are intended to cleanse, beautify, or alter the appearance of the human body (with the notable exception of soap). 

Backed by the threat of fines and legal action, the FD&C requires that all cosmetic products display the following information on their labels:

  • Directions on how to safely use the product.
  • Warnings for any potential side effects.
  • A list of all included ingredients.
  • The § 740.10 warning.

Alongside these descriptions, all of the information mandated by the FPLA must be included, as well.

Extra Label Requirements for the Food Industry:

Under Chapter IV of the FD&C, it is stated that food products must display all of the information listed in the FPLA (i.e., food identification, manufacturer identity, and net quantity) on the most visible area of the package. This section also requires the following information be included on an information panel created on the side of the package:

  • A full list of all ingredients used within the product arranged in descending order of weight.
  • A “Nutrition Facts” label containing a calorie count and a list of the daily value of nutrients required in 21 CFR 101.9(c).

For any product containing a major allergen, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 requires the explicit mention of the allergen by its most commonly used name. These allergens include:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Fish
  • Crustacean shellfish         
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans

The FDA’s label requirements do extend to meat, poultry, and egg products, and these goods are also often subject to additional regulations stemming from individual state governments. While these regulations vary to a large degree, they generally require date coding of some type, whether that takes the form of a “best-by date,” a packaging date, or lot code.

Additionally, federal law mandates that producers of infant formula must include a “use-by” date on their product labels.

Find the Right Equipment to Meet Your Box Labeling Requirements

To meet industry standards and abide by federal regulations, your operation needs to be well-versed on what codes must be included on your product packaging. Given how important this task is, you need to be sure you have the right equipment and ink to reliably get the job done without error. Here at InkJet, Inc., our print and apply labelers and other industrial printers are designed for maximum reliability to consistently print high-quality, legible codes. 

For more information on box labeling requirements and how to meet them, how to encode your specific products, what printer is best for your unique operation, or anything else, contact InkJet, Inc. online or by phone at 1-(800) 280-3245. Our expert team is ready with answers.